Village of Great Neck officials introduce permit amnesty law

Village of Great Neck officials introduce permit amnesty law
Mayor Pedram Bral addresses a resident at a previous village board meeting. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

By Rebecca Melnitsky

Village of Great Neck trustees introduced a bill on Tuesday night that could give building owners extra time to get permits for unauthorized construction and avoid paying extra fees.

Currently, a building owner who has started construction without a proper permit must pay double the permit application fees, and triple if construction has been finished. Under the proposed bill, there will be an amnesty period in which an owner can apply for a permit to legalize the construction and avoid paying penalties.

“If you have illegally done something in your house and were hesitant to legalize it because of the penalties … now is the time for you to come in and legalize,” said Robert Barbach, superintendent of the Building Department.

To receive the waiver, the bill requires that residents start an application for a building permit by June 1, 2018. However, that date may change in the final bill. The waiver would not apply if there is an outstanding violation, according to village Attorney Peter Bee.

The goal of the proposed law is to encourage homeowners and property owners to come forward and legalize construction that was previously done or without the owner’s knowledge by lessening the fee they would pay otherwise.

“Most departments, like this department, have as their goal compliance rather than enforcement,” said Bee. “So the goal is not to hit everybody with penalties as a fundraiser, the goal is to bring individuals into compliance. And I think this [bill] accomplishes that.”

Barbach said the Town of North Hempstead enacted an amnesty period for building permits in 2012. Previously, the town had enacted stronger penalties after a corruption scandal, but an amnesty program was carried out when the fees placed a burden on people who needed to get work approved.

The village will hold a public hearing on the proposed bill at the next Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 7.

In addition, village officials postponed a hearing on a proposed extension for the Kol Israel Achim property at 429 Middle Neck Road until Nov. 7.

There was also an update on the proposed LED lights.  The village has received some of the lights and hopes to install them in the next few weeks.

Resident Carl Abraham spoke in support of the LED lights and said that supposed negative health effects were exaggerated or nonexistent, especially compared with laptop screens and televisions.

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